Senior - Which Template?

I am an older guy… 66 and in fair shape but still need to loose a few pounds. I bike, hike, ski, etc. But I have never lifted much for weights. I am looking to tone up to keep my active lifestyle as I get even older. I go to a gym almost every morning (retired) so I was thinking of a 3 or 4 days a week program. Its a Snap Fitness gym with dumbbells, squat racks, plate machines, & selectorized weight machines.

I was thinking of 531 since I can start with light weights and gradually increase the weights. It seems this would be ideal for a beginner to prevent any injury. I like the idea of core lifts & it also tells me what to do without any thought on my part. Others have told me to only stick with machines for a weight routine but I think the core lifts would be more beneficial.

I was thinking of the Beginner template or the Full Body Training template? Do you think 531 would be a good program for someone like me? Any thoughts are appreciated. Thanks

5/3/1 would be awesome for your situation.

To break in to the program, I’d do 4 days a week. 5s progression for the main lift, 5x5 First Set Last for the supplemental. I’d keep the main lift and the supplemental lift the same (so bench main and bench supplemental). I’d go with bodyweight work for the assistance. If I could do dips and chins, I’d do that, but if that’s a far ask, I’d do push ups and bodyweight rows for upper body. Single leg/core could be bodyweight lunges, GHRs, and some basic ab work. I’d do that for about 4-5 cycles and evaluate from there.


While i’m a big fan of 531, and i think it could be awesome for your situation, i also think something like Dan Johns Easy Strength is worth a look.

I also spied this video underneath that i think is worth 3 minutes of your time:

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Also, if you don’t have experience with the barbell main lifts, get some coaching from someone knowledgeable, so you learn the skill portion of the movements and avoid an injury.

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Thanks Guys… Sounds like I am on the right track…

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I think the standard program suggests 4 days per week. I’m sure that works well for a lot of younger people. Not sure it is going to be sustainable at your age, especially as the weights start to get heavier. (I’m 69, and am much happier lifting just twice a week).

I think that a lot of older guys doing 531 variations start to stretch out the time to cycle through the four main lifts. So you might do something like: MWFM, WFMW, FMWF. Or go to twice a week, and just take a full two weeks to cycle through the 4 main lifts. I just kind of depends on how good your recovery is.

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Some templates also feature combining lifts on training days so you only have 2-3 lifting days a week. The Rest Pause template is only 2 days, for example. Nice and intense with a lot of recovery time.

Just curious. What are the advantages of keeping the main and the supplemental the same compared to mixing them, for example, doing OHP with Bench supplemental, Deadlift with squat supplemental, etc.?

CAUTION: This response got longer than I intended

Biggest benefit is the saving of time and energy. You only have to warm-up once and you don’t need to set up multiple stations. There’s also a focus element: you key in on ONE movement for the entire day. Your mind is set, cues are figured out, you’re dialed in. As a beginner, that’s absolutely ideal.

Physically, it makes it so that you accumulate a significant degree of fatigue in that session. The main work isn’t challenging, the supplemental work isn’t challenging, but added together, it’s challenging. Alternating movements is the “easy” way, because you get to shift the emphasis of the fatigue in between the main and the supplemental. I feel it’s the primary reason people who run BBB and alternate the main and supplemental report the workouts being “too easy”. Doing 5x10 with 50% of your TM isn’t all that challenging when you’re “fresh”, but doing it right after doing your main work will suddenly make it taxing.

And on that part above, if you’re doing main and supplemental, it really is “immediately after”. Unless you intentionally choose to lollygag, you can just hit your top set of the main work, strip the bar down to your supplemental work and get going. When you alternate, unless you own the gym and plan ahead, there’s going to be longer downtime between teardown and set-up.

I understand the argument that, when you alternate the movements, you get more practice frequency, but in my mind 5/3/1 is about getting bigger, stronger, faster and better conditioning: NOT getting better at lifting weights. In a bit of comedy, when it comes to getting bigger and stronger, we actually want to be WORSE at lifting: not better. When we improve our proficiency with the lift, we learn how to recruit more muscles into it, perfect the stroke of the movement, reduce ROM (not cut it short, but make the ROM more efficient), etc etc. All the things that are great for moving maximal poundages in a competition but NOT for creating the greatest possible stress/strain on our system to promote growth.

So in that regard, I don’t see a necessary benefit to getting more practice in the lifts as far as 5/3/1 goes. Inefficient technique will STILL promote muscular growth. And regarding “hitting the muscle groups” with a certain frequency: assistance work and conditioning takes care of that.


Thanks for the extended reply! I don’t want to overstay my visit, but a couple of quick follow-ups that might be relevant to the conversation?

Would either of the two following conditions influence your recommendation?

  1. Training 3x/week instead of 4x/week
  2. Using supplemental variations like 5x5 or 5x3 instead of 5x10

Thanks again!

Always happy to chat dude.

Assuming we are no longer talking about a senior trainee, since the convo is about BBB…

I would not do BBB if I could only lift 3x a week. For mass gain, I would do Building The Monolith.

Per point 2: no influence.

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